MapTool FAQ

Questions Frequently Asked about MapTool

Q: Is MapTool really free?

Yes, all the tools at RPTools are completely free and will remain so.

Q: This seems like it’s still a work in progress. Is MapTool stable enough to use?

Most definitely you can use it now. It is constantly being improved, but you don’t have to constantly upgrade, and if you do all the remaining 1.3 builds will be fully compatible with whatever you create now.

Q: There are so many versions! Which do I use?

The short answer is: “which ever one you want”. One of the nice things about MapTool is that all past builds are available. The latest 1.3 builds are really not any less stable than the last “officially” stable version. Until the development team wraps up work on 1.3 and moves to 1.4, the best thing to do is to run the most recent version of 1.3, with the caveat that you may wish to double-check on the forum to make sure it is stable (as occasionally a bug creeps in that causes problems). You’re sure to get a very quick response.

Q: How difficult is it to learn to use MapTool?

MapTool is actually very easy to use. It sometimes can seem otherwise to new users, because the system is so flexible that even serious code-monkeys can spend a lot of time customizing it to impressive degrees. They then report back to the forums to post their magnum opus and the casual reader’s eyes boggle at the pages of code! But all of that is completely optional. The basics of MapTool, more than enough to make it emulate the tabletop experience, can be learned in a matter of minutes. It really is that simple. You may wish to take a look at our video tutorials, though bear in mind these were made with an older version of the tool, so some of the layout and menus have changed. The techniques used, though, will remain very instructive.

Q: What are the system requirements?

MapTool, like all of the RPTools applications, is a Java-based program. You need to have a computer system that has Java 1.5 or later installed to run MapTool. It is recommended, if you plan to use large, complex maps, that you have a minimum of 512 megabytes of RAM (1 gig or more is even better), but with simpler maps you can run with much less memory. And remember that the players will need at least as much memory as the GM! (MapTool will report in the lower right corner how much memory your campaign is using at any given moment — this should tell you if you’re running up against your system’s limits.)

Q: How do I get started?

If you have an up-to-date version of Java installed, it’s simple. MapTool supports both a “webstart” function, where you just click on a link found here, and a “download” function, where you download a .zip file of the complete program and run that. The Java Web Start function is currently only for the most recent versions of the tools and requires an Internet connection, although once you’ve used the Java Web Start version the files are cached on your computer and you can run them again without an Internet connection.  To install older versions, you will have to download them from the download section.  Be sure to check the README file inside the ZIP file.

Q: Are there any instructions or other information that can help me?

It’s hard to keep current when product updates are released as often as they are. We do have some very helpful tutorials, and there is a very useful wiki being built for instructions on the creation of macros (this is a more advanced feature, and likely not something you’ll want to get involved in until you have the basics down). When 1.3 is finalized, we plan to have a large push for documentation of its final workings, but we’re holding off for now, as that day is nigh upon us. Until it happens, if the tutorials don’t give you what you’re looking for, ask around on our forums. They rarely go more than a few minutes without a knowledgeable user posting a response, and are at present our very best source of information.

Q: I can’t get my server to work. How can people connect to my computer?

The two most frequent problems people run into when connecting players to the GM’s computer are (a) firewalls not letting players signals through to the GM’s computer, and (b) players and GMs using different versions of MapTool. Problem (a) crops up when a modem, router, OS, or security feature blocks signals entering your computer as part of a virus-blocking function. It is resolved by opening a portal or exception through the firewall. How this is done varies depending on where the firewall is located. This post by our beloved Azhrei contains a very useful networking guide that will answer most questions in this area. See especially the section on port forwarding on p. 4.

Q: Can I use MapTool to play Game X?

MapTool is not designed with any game system in mind. Or perhaps more appropriately, it is designed with all game systems in mind! It can accomodate maps of all sorts, has functionality for square and hex grids, and can take tokens and images of all types. Clever users have even gotten it to approximate a 3D look with isomorphic maps. Other users have set it up to play card games. It could be used to play boardgames, miniatures games, wargames, or even just spoken-word RPGs. In short, while we can’t brag to be able to accommodate absolutely every system, chances are your game will be no problem. Currently forum member are playing D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder, D&D 4.0, Savage Worlds, GURPS, Runequest, MTG, Battletech, Star Frontiers, Call of Cthulhu, Shadow Run, and many, many more.

Q: Are there pre-made modules available for Game X?

The RPTools site does not offer any pre-packaged modules for any games, per se. However, most commonly played games have been given much affectionate attention by our community. They have created basic campaign files for these games, with many convenient features encoded for you to speed up or augment that particular game system. They post links to places where you can download these campaign files on our forum. Since recent versions of MapTool are backwards-compatible, the most recent versions of the tool will be able to load these campaigns with no trouble. So — you download the campaign file, start MapTool, open the camapaign, and there you go! Start importing or drawing your maps, and then start your server. You’re good to go. It’s actually easier than installing modules can sometimes be for other systems.

Q: I’ve heard about a torrent with a lot of images for MapTool use. Where do I find it?

If you’re looking for the 2GB torrent of images (animals, equipment, weapons, furniture, etc) that the folks on the forums are always talking about, here’s the forum thread.  Also, check the Sticky threads at the top of this forum for more image links.

Q: How do I get MapTool to ____?

The answer to this, of course, depends on the ___. The best place to get information on the stuff that comes ready-made within the tool is from the video tutorials. This will show you some of the ins and outs of drawing maps, importing images, setting up basic token properties (to record hit points or status ailments, for example), and getting familiar with the topology and lighting functions. MapTool is very flexible, and you can get it to do some amazing things, but to automate calculations and complex rolls, to automatically keep track of your armor class, or your magic enchantments, or what laser pistol you’ve drawn, requires writing up a combination of campaign properties and code macros. The best place to get detailed information on specific functions used in our macro coding language is the wiki. Any other information, especially anything specific to a particular system, should be asked about in our very active forum, where experts lurk just waiting to beat one another to the punch to help you…  In fact, your question may have been asked and answered already, so try searching the forum.